Why You Should Consider Independent Publishing
A guest post from Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com: Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing
Let’s get this straight up front. I would love a book deal with a big name publisher.
I’d love to see my books in bookstores all over the world. That’s still a dream of mine, as it is probably yours. It’s also the dream of many mid-list authors who have a publishing contract but the reality hasn’t quite led them to bestseller success. Despite this dream, I have just independently published my first thriller novel, Pentecost on Amazon.com as a print and Kindle book.
Why would I do that?
Publishing is changing fast and there are more choices than there used to be. You need to know all the paths to possible success for your book but first you need to understand what you actually want to achieve. There are various reasons we all want to have our books published. Here are some of them.
1) My book is being read by people all over the world and they love it.
2) I’m making an income from my books.
3) An agent/publisher/editor thinks my book is worth publishing.
4) My name is on a printed book in a bookstore.
With independent (indie) publishing, you can achieve the top two and that can lead to the last two. Going indie means you publish yourself. You may use freelancers for editing, cover design etc but you own the rights to the book and are the publisher of record.
One way to indie publish is with ebooks.
Amazon has recently announced that ebook sales have overtaken paperback sales on the Kindle. There is also exponential growth in the ebook market. The Booker Prize judges will now be reading ebook versions of the entries and that indicates a new acceptance within literary circles. Even if you haven’t changed your reading habits, a lot of other people have embraced the change.
So, one of your publishing choices these days is to release your book on the Kindle and other ebook platforms like the Nook and iPad. Amazon.com is the biggest bookstore in the world and you can have the same page space as any other author. As long as your book is professionally done, customers won’t even know it’s independently published and they won’t care. Here’s what converted me to this method of sales. You can load your book onto dtp.amazon.com and it will be selling on the Kindle within 24 hours. It takes months, if not years, to get an agent and at least 18 months for a book to be traditionally published and available for sale. Within 24 hours of Kindle publishing, I can be watching my sales tick over and at the end of the month, I have money in my bank account. So, ebook publishing will achieve (1) and (2) on the list. Some independent authors are making huge amounts of money this route and they aren’t worried about (3) and (4).
But what if you still want to hold your print book in your hands?
I understand that feeling which is why I use LightningSource.com (LS) to distribute my print book using print-on-demand technology. You’ll see that Pentecost is available as a print book on Amazon.com but I don’t hold stock or post it myself. The order goes to LS who print a copy and send it to the customer direct. I just receive a percentage of the sale at the end of the month. I paid a book designer to design a professional cover and also format the inside of the book so I’m proud of the final result and people can buy in either format.
But what if you still want a book deal?
You need to decide for yourself whether you’re patient enough to wait for the traditional publishing cycle. I’m impatient and a DIY type of person. I love to take action and see a result. I like being in control. I’ve tried the submission-rejection process and the negative energy made me crazy. There are other roads to a publishing deal, including making huge sales on the Kindle and being noticed for sales success. Check out Karen McQuestion or Boyd Morrison. There are other authors who achieve this level of success and then turn down publishing deals as they make more money on their own. Check out Amanda Hocking or the recent Amazon #1 The Machine of Death.
There are some aspects you need to consider if you choose these independent publishing paths as it definitely suits a certain type of personality. You need to treat it as a business where you invest some money for professional editing, book cover design and formatting in order to create a quality product. You then receive income from sales like any other business. It’s a different model to advances and royalties but it’s definitely easier to understand! You also need to do your own marketing so you need an author platform (although there are stories of people who are making money just by loading books on the Kindle with no marketing). Mainstream publishers expect an author platform these days as well so that is needed whatever the route you take.
So yes, I’d like a book deal, but in the meantime I’ll be writing and publishing independently.
People will be buying and reading my books, leaving me reviews, telling their friends and I’ll be building a backlist of kick-ass thrillers. For me, this positive action makes me happier and more fulfilled than waiting potentially years for someone in the industry to notice me. Whatever your dreams for your book, consider all the options available to you. It’s a new publishing world out there!
Joanna Penn is the author of Pentecost, a thriller, out now on Amazon.com.